Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How to Foil a Tree Thief

In rural Bangladesh, your iPod, laptop, or fancy digital camera is usually not a target of thieves. After all, what will a poor villager, driven to theft by sheer poverty, do with one of these gadgets? There is no market for them. (Cellphones are a different matter - you must keep them carefully wherever you go.)

Turns out the two things that village thieves go after most are trees and cows.

Although punishment meted out to cow-thieves is more severe, I think tree-thieves are the worse by far. Think about it. You plant a tree, spend years watching it grow, and one night it is gone. It will take years to grow it back, no matter how much money you throw at it.

My father had to deal with many tree-thieves all his life in his farm. About ten years ago thieves took one of his prized Teak (segun) trees. This was a tree he had planted three or four decades ago. It had weathered many storms and droughts and achieved an impressive girth. Then one morning it was no more.

My father was so upset and enraged that he got his men to dig up the stump, roots and all, and replanted it closer to his bungalow where the thieves would not dare touch it. Lo and behold, after ten years, two shoots from the stump are 20-30 feet tall. Two new shoots emerged this year. The tree has new life.

So there you have it - adapt to a new timescale and you too can foil a tree thief!


Shahan said...

Interesting story with an even more important lesson. I was mugged recently and I lost my prized cell phone; but, that is another story. Being a technology buff, it is proving to be difficult to get over the loss. Thank you for the inspiring story.

ulysses said...

Hi Shahan,

Sorry to hear you were mugged like that. Glad to hear the story helped.